Friday, June 3, 2022

Book Review: The Lobotomist's Wife

By Cindy Roesel

I picked up the novel, THE LOBOTOMIST'S WIFE (Lake Union), by debut author Samantha Greene Woodruff initially with some trepidation, but once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. Yes, it's about that - lobotomies - the pick in the eye thing, but it's so much more. Greene Woodruff weaves together a historically accurate narrative about Dr. Walter Freeman's introduction of the lobotomy, which became the "ice pick" through the eye socket technique. He performed it on hundreds of patients suffering from migraines to depression, and more than half women. At that time in history, women were basically kept silent, unable to speak for themselves. 

Taken from this shocking chapter in medical history, 1936-1950s, THE LOBOTOMIST'S WIFE tells the story of a courageous woman, the doctor's wife, who is at first in awe of Freeman but realizes he's nothing more than an egotistical madman. THE LOBOTOMIST'S WIFE is a compelling story which highlights how the medical establishment's goal to make a "treatment" faster, more efficient miracle, if not monitored, can turn out to be a curse and how the best of intentions, can result in horror. 

The takeaway for me from THE LOBOTOMIST'S WIFE is the struggle that women in particular go through to be true to themselves; to fit in despite society's oppressive norms. The novel is certainly timely considering what women are facing legally today in healthcare, a majority of older white men deciding the fate of women's bodies. The more the way things supposedly change, highlights how they seem to remain the same.

Thanks to Wunderkind PR for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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